Several things struck me – not literally, although I did find two bruises on my arm and no recollection of how they might have been obtained – while I was staying in London. The first was that it’s getting harder to find real useful things to buy in Islington. I went out for paint. On the way, I meant to call in at the internet cafe to find firms to check gas and electricity (no break-downs, but you need a sustificate before you can let out anywhere, and I have no problems with that at all. Two many people have died from fumes in unkept-up rented accommodation and the checks are necessary, although eye-wateringly expensive) but it had vanished and been replaced by a café. I kept going, pulling my suitcase (empty) towards Chapel Market. The paint shop had gone too. I went into the key-cutting place to get some keys cut and asked if there was an internet cafe locally. I was directed to a dodgy-looking game-playing place that was, in any case, closed. I kept going and found another small DIY shop and bought the paint and asked again, and was told of an internet place in the next road. Indeed, it was there. About 15 new and smart looking machines; I obtained permission to park the case (now containing paint pots) in a corner and seated myself at a machine. Half an hour later, I had made three appointments (I looked up firms and phoned them there and then) and checked vitallest emails and replied to a couple, but resisted blogging; too much to do. I went to pay. 50p. If they charge so little, they will surely not be in business long. The young man at the desk was startlingly handsome, with deep black skin and a charmingly shy smile.
Oh, I’ve omitted to say, when I was first thwarted in my attempts at paint-buying, I thought I’d try Woolworth. It isn’t there any longer. A sign says it is to be replaced by Waitrose. What a good idea. Sainsbury next door, M&S round the corner, another supermarket is just what is needed right there.
Anyway, I headed into Sainsbury to get a few cleaning materials and some food. I had taken yoghurt and corn cakes so that I would have something for breakfast, and a kettle but had forgotten tea. I forgot it again.
I went back to the flat and started to get ready to paint, but it wasn’t long before the man arrived to fit the new aerial, so I let him in, showed him up the two flights of stairs to the balcony and went down to let in the electricity man. They were both delightful and we chatted in between times. The electricity man found a small problem in the original set-up, but he said, kindly, that he wouldn’t charge extra to fix it as it would only take half an hour. Then we went outside to the downstairs flat and I let him in. I have a charming tenant, but I’d never been in the flat until this trip (I’d called in the night before to explain that people were coming round and okay them coming in) and he has got it looking gorgeous. Awfully stylish, and he has a Mac too.
So, it wasn’t until the afternoon than I made a start, and I seemed to make slow progress. I sorted out the bathroom and bedroom and texted a friend to say how dull it all was. Several texts later, I accepted her offer to come and help, and cracked on with renewed vigour.
The next day, I got on with cleaning and painting. It wasn’t that the flat was dirty, but that a tenant is entitled to expect every corner to be newly scrubbed, and it was. In the afternoon, rather later than booked, the gas man came. He was not quite so chummy but unbent a bit in the face of the relentless Z charm (hem hem). Then I went off to the agents and signed the documents. By the end of the year, after all the expense, I hope to actually be earning something from the new tenant.
I meant to go out, but it was later than I’d wanted to leave and I was suddenly exhausted. All I did was recharge my Oyster card, get some food and a mini bottle of wine, and I was lying on the bed eating and drinking by 5.15, not having had more than a bread roll all day so far. Then I went to sleep. Later, I read. I’d meant to spend the rest of the evening working, but was too tired. I only drank half of the one-third bottle of wine (I brought the rest home) and read and slept the rest of the evening. I couldn’t even get up early the next morning and was 15 hours in bed all told. I was cross with myself for the wasted time, but sleep was fitful every night, not helped by not having sufficient bedclothes. There wasn’t room in the case for a sleeping bag, so I brought a duvet cover and a shawl and warm pyjamas and a pair of the Sage’s socks, and thought I’d be fine. I wasn’t. I added my bathtowel and jacket and on the second and third nights kept on my long sleeved tee shirt. As I draped each removed garment on top of the pile I felt like Eliza Doolittle when, arriving home after an evening selling flowers, her preparation for bed was to remove her skirt and blouse, add them to the pile of clothes and shawls on the bed and climb in underneath them. Well, so I remember from reading the play 40 years ago anyway.
On Saturday morning I still had the kitchen ceiling to paint and the kitchen cupboards and floor to clean, as well as photographs to take for an inventory (still to be written), the downstairs passageway floor to wash and the stairs to give a final coat of paint. I tidied everything away, took my bags downstairs and my final action was to paint my way down the stairs. My hands were dirty but I couldn’t do anything about it; I wiped them on my jeans, changed, texted Dandelion to say I was on the way, but late, slapped on some emergency make-up and set off.
Too long a post, I’ll add the rest of what struck me tomorrow.